Poem: 1956


Forbidden love

is tossed back

into the arms of the hand

the throw of the gamble

that most fear to play

Yet

under cover

‘neath the sweaty dark

of the hidden night

in the pulsing fury

of times angry divide

A union

of color

entangled together

through tension and tender

White wanting in concealed desire

wrapped in Black brave

Heart marches

toward an outlawed end

Bound

Round

Babe

Racial

Bye

Given gone away

to spare the agony

of blasphemous belonging

Two

split to wander separate worlds

One

drowning in the blood

of both

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Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

One


Humans have so many peculiar traits. There are a myriad of cultural, ethnic and race oddities we humans have adopted that allude me. How far in the centuries do they go back and from where do they stem?

For instance: where does royalty come from? Watching The Crown last night, it struck me as, well, silly (no offense to anyone reading), that we as humans actually regard other humans as somehow superior. That their blood is somehow ‘royal’ and to be treated specially; that we should bow down and kiss their hands etc. It struck me as funny.

And then there is the black vs. white situation. We all know the horrors of that situation, not only in this country, but in South Africa too. How do humans come to a place that one race is more deserving than another? Where does this feeling begin?

In Germany, we have an idea where to trace the hatred of the Jews and subsequent extermination of them. But was it really just one man’s idea or is there an underlying theme among humans that somehow we are not all equal? I see a trend.

There are so many examples we can look to in history where one people feels different and better or somehow higher. In some cases, like with royalty, maybe these people are held in high esteem. But in most cases, it causes bad blood  among the groups.

I’m no scientist, but I do know that at our cellular level, and when you cut us all open, we all bleed them same. We all look the same on the inside. We all have a heart, two lungs, two kidneys and a brain, although some don’t use it as well as others. That’s why when you get right down to it, it’s all so foolish that we fight and kill, destroy and bomb, displace and denigrate folks we feel are others. Because really they are not.

They are really us, maybe with a different color paint, but filled with the same parts.

Poem: Food For Free


School Lunch Lines

with hair net lunch ladies

and cement paste potatoes

and spit filled ketchup

But today the book said:

159

(160 if you count 5-year-old Luciana)

Lining up outside

long before the prison-bolt door is let loose

drawn like a vortex

walking and sweating with bags and backpacks

or stopping in front from the city bus

and the cars stuffed full as they hope they will be too

“Sign the book”: is the weary demand

it is the Payment

The Price

for all you will get

Fill your bags and your belly

“I have no teeth, so no corn on the cob”

“No dessert because I am diabetic”

“I am homeless and live in the streets”

Gracias

Thank you

I am now the lunch lady

I give food for free

 

 

Too Small


Inspired by the movie “The Woman In Gold,” I have begun to read the book titled “The Lady In Gold,” by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is about a famous painting by the Viennese artist Klimt which was stolen during the Nazi invasion of Vienna by Hitler, along with many other Jewish treasures and artwork.

The book goes into much detail about the horrors of that time and it has hung heavy on my heart. And I realize, though, it seems not much different from today.

When I woke up this morning, after having dreams about German invasions of a hospital (because of my new job offer at a hospital I suppose), I turned on the radio and heard about the San Bernardino shooting.

My early walk had already been filled with thoughts of what a violent species we were, and questions about why this was so. And here it was yet again! More death, more unnecessary bloodshed.

NPR was profiling the current types of people who do these sorts of things: the outcasts, the unhappy childhood, the ones that feel separate or not a part or who have been rejected. This was even Hitler! It’s shocking. But what makes that one person turn on their fellow human and decide to harm them–sometimes en masse?

Sometimes this person is so extreme in their behavior they are able to recruit others–even change a nation to be brutal! Slavery of any kind is also a kindred kind of violence unleashed upon others and is filled with superiority and hatred.

In looking through history, what little I know of it, it seems that many indigenous people did not act in these types of ways. There may have been some tribal fighting, but the random ethnic cleansing due to insecure and hateful personalities of individuals seems to be missing.

I often wonder if we are mutating to possess some gene that carries this violence within us. I pray we do not. There are days I fear turning on the radio and simply feel numb when I hear about more dead.

How do we stop this march? How do we make these people feel more a part? Can you start to sense when someone might do a heinous thing and help them see it is not the answer? Are we all simply lost?

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Maybe work places need to provide more time for employees to meet, gather and really talk. And make sure everyone’s mental health is stable. We need to really start caring about one another: our co-workers, neighbors, family members–even people you just meet in the street.

Because if we all are going to live in this volatile world together, then we are each responsible for the action of another. The earth is getting too small to believe otherwise!

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Bring It Inside


Today I did something I don’t often do, but like to do when I can. I went to Church…yes, Church. I go occasionally to the UU…or Unitarian Universalist Church that is local to me. I used to go years ago when I lived in Syracuse, NY and loved it. I loved it for its welcoming and open community. It is an accepting and loving place without emphasis on God or Christianity. This was a comfort to me as I am not a Christian, raised by a Jewish Mother and Protestant Father and coming out pagan myself.

So when I found a ‘church’ and a ‘religion’ that was more a community of liked minded people where I could meet folks that did good things, said interesting things and often had interesting classes, I was willing to give it a try. It was an easy fit, without the religious jargon that so often gave me the willies other places did when I visited.

When I came to New England, my family and I tried the UU Church here. The building was much more ‘church-like’ than the one in NY, having a steeple and pews. This was at first a bit of a put-off, but I decided venture forth anyway.

Honestly, I’ve never found it quite like my NY family, but it has it merits I suppose. I’ve never quite gotten as involved though. It has never grabbed me the same way and even put me off in some ways. As a spiritual person, and one that keeps evolving, I won’t give up hope.

So today, I had gotten enough rest and decided on a rainy NE day, it was a good day to listen to someone say something poignant. It’s always lovely to hear the music also and maybe even meet someone nice. Being single does get lonely, and having a community is something I am trying to find.

This month is ‘inclusive’ month there: including others–gays, disabled, people of color, transgender etc. It was interesting listening to the minister talk about this (and other short talks) while sitting among an all white audience of people all over 50.  I’m willing to bet there were no transgender people listening today (although I could be wrong), and I didn’t notice any gay couples either.

One problem I’ve always had with the UU community, especially the one around here, is that they talk a big game, but don’t seem to walk that talk. One gentleman did mention the fact that we were all white and maybe we should work harder on attracting people of other nationalities. Could be tricky where we live! Hey, I’d be happy to see some young people! Most everyone looked over 70! It doesn’t seem a stretch they could attract younger people with a credo talking about inclusiveness!

So I guess my point is: it’s all well and good to say stuff, but you have to live it too. If you have a credo, don’t just read it every day, but do the things it says! Believe it, feel it, emote it. Whether you are Christian or UU, it doesn’t matter! Or even if you are an atheist–be strong in your beliefs. Get out there and beat the street.

I know I’ve always had a big mouth–my third grade teacher called me chatterbox. Hopefully now I put it to good use. And hopefully my ethics and belief system is one that is based on fairness, equity and equality. I’m not always perfect and catch myself plenty, but I try to take each person as they come. And I always open my big mouth when I feel something isn’t right.

Maybe if I keep going to this UU Church I can help them get more diversity. It’s all well and good to tout diversity within four walls of a church, but we have to take that credo to the streets and bring it inside!